Video: David McNally on Marx and the Global Economic Crisis

Posted June 9, 2009

David McNally, Professor at York University and leading member of the New Socialist Group (Solidarity’s sister organization in Canada,, talks about the roots of the the financial crisis and its precise role in the worldwide economic downturn–as well as the depth of its social costs. From the Marx and the Global Economic Crisis panel at the 2009 Left Forum in New York.


3 responses to “Video: David McNally on Marx and the Global Economic Crisis”

  1. christian Avatar

    ‘human values’ are more important than ‘money values’?! did marx really spend decades of his life analyzing capital to come to that rigid and extremely facile antithesis? is this the kind of trenchant insight we can expect from the debt-financed, self-proclaimed ‘intellectual left’ that has no organic ties to labour and yet dons the garb of revolutionary marxism?

    marx NEVER used the term ‘abstract value’ in the sense used here. rather he was at pains to show that exchange-value was NOT just abstract, but had as its secret, DEFINITE relations of production taking the form of ‘abstract human labour’ measured in labour-time. ‘abstract’ here does not mean ‘made up’ or ‘unreal’, but ‘without particulars’, in this case referring to the very real and palpable ‘expenditure of human brains, muscles, nerves, hands etc.’ that all forms of labour have in common.

    i didn’t hear mcnally mention the word ‘labour’ once, effectively extirpating the very heart of marx’s work which is his LABOUR theory of value. how he could have progressed all the way to volume three having failed to grasp the most important element of the whole of marx’s political economy is shocking considering he is being paid to teach the stuff. the whole theory rests on the hidden UNITY of so-called ‘human values’ and ‘exchange-value’, which is what the so-called ‘intellectual left’ should be pointing out, and not their dazzling APPARENT antithesis that can be seen by even us non-academics at a quick glance.

    lots of other mistakes too, packed into a mere 15 minutes, such as the confusion of ‘world-money’, which as marx says always takes the form of bullion, with so-called ‘non-commodified’ money [another meaningless term marx NEVER used]. the IMF, the very instrument of ‘globalization’, is in fact also charged with assessing and maintaining an international gold standard, hence ‘WORLD-money’. nixon de-nationalized the gold standard in order to finance the vietnam war, i.e., slaughter the international revolutionary working-class. the ‘hidden’ connection between money and labour is far more overt in material reality than in the head of david mcnally.

  2. Peter B. Avatar
    Peter B.

    I’m very thankful to Erin for taping and posting the talks from this panel (are you going to post Mosley’s talk too?)

    McNally definitely has a special talent for bringing to life a Marxist analsysis in a way that few political economists do; and as Isaac correctly writes, he always connects it with the larger political implications for us on the radical left.

    I also feel your point,Isaac, about thinking through implications of this kind of material on the internet for education and organizing. And while it’s definitely true that more folks are watching this stuff by themselves (let’s hope there not listening to lil wayne at all) we can make an explicit effort to organize discussions around video lectures like this one. I have no doubt folks would rather watch this short clip and have a vibrant discussion about it than to read McNally’s 15,000+ word article in the next issue of Historical Materialism!

    It’s not that we shouldn’t try and work through long and somewhat difficult pieces of analysis like that, but as all of us know who’ve been a part of reading groups before, the less time something takes to read/watch the more likely they’ll do it, and the better the discussion will be.

  3. Isaac Avatar

    I’m excited to watch this and the Anwar Shaikh lectures all the way through. David’s got a great ability to isolate and explain relevant conceptual points that help us understand the economy (in a very “political” way.) Definitely helpful to me, at least, in my effort to play catch-up on marxist economics over the past several months.

    We really need to think more about the implications of the internet on communication, education, and organizing on the Left. I’ve always been envious of New Yorkers who constantly have things like the Left Forum, etc etc etc dropped in their lap. (I realize people have gripes with it being mainly academic and so on – but still, there’s nothing like that within hundreds of miles of anywhere I’ve lived.)

    So, now, talks can be posted on the increasingly affordable internet, making them available to millions of people (except those trying to check out Solidarity’s website from public libraries, which block it…!) But at the same time, we lose the actual organizing function of conferences like this. You don’t meet anybody, plan things in the hallway, or any of that; just watch it from your bedroom in between Lil Wayne music videos.